Access McCandless has been the go-to news source for Pittsburghers in the North Hills for over five years. What started out as a small facebook page now has over 13,000 subscribers who rely on us for news and information that includes breaking traffic news, neighborhood crime information, political happenings, social events and much, much more. Don’t take our word for it. Join our Facebook page!
What started out as a frustration from a lack of local news has blossomed into a major hub of news for not only McCandless Township, but residents of all North Hills Communities.
We have volunteer editors and writing staff and admins on our Facebook page. The admins and editors prefer not to be named. We have received backlash from our followers on occasion and they prefer to remain anonymous. Rest assured, there are definitely MULTIPLE people at Access McCandless.
Editor: Cindy Killeen
Cindy is a lifelong resident of McCandless Township. A former stringer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, she has a varied background in both professional and community service capacities.
Click on the links below to see newspaper articles about Cindy and her efforts in the community.
- As the Founder of the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, which she founded in her home in 2001, she served as the executive director of what was a very large nonprofit organization that she created on her own. She served the autism community of Greater Pittsburgh for 10 years as its Executive Director, helping thousands of children and families of children with autism spectrum disorders find services, support and opportunities for community inclusion.
- Cindy began a website in the early 2000’s that chronicled her experiences as an autism parent in an effort to help others in the same situation. She wrote about how to obtain services for children, where to get help, therapy providers, and support groups.
- Cindy started an online store that sold autism awareness merchandise to raise money to start an inclusive autism center where children could get psychological evaluations and start services quickly. Over the years, the store brought in an incredible amount of money – at one point having over $200,000 in gross sales across the US and Canada. The money that was earned was used to open 3 autism centers in Pittsburgh. Here is a story in the New York times that mentions “AutismLink,” which was the website. All monies earned through the online store were donated back to the children of Pittsburgh by offering events and services for families affected by autism.
- Some of the monies earned by the store were used to help families all over WV, OH and PA by purchasing bracelets from Project Lifesaver. Here is a story in the Post-Gazette where Cindy donated a bracelet to a family whose son had been lost for days.
- In 2006, Cindy opened the first Autism Center of Pittsburgh location on Cumberland Rd. in the North Hills.
- In 2008, Cindy worked with a group of young professionals in Mt. Lebanon so she could not only open an Autism Center location in the South Hills, but also purchase the equipment needed for various therapies. The Mt. Lebanon Block party was the result of the efforts and is still held every year on Washington Rd. in Mt. Lebo. The events raised thousands of dollars for the autism center.
- In 2008, Cindy opened the second Autism Center of Pittsburgh in the South Hills, Mt. Lebanon area.
- Cindy was appointed to the State’s Special Advisory Panel in the Dept. of Education for children with disabilities.
- Cindy partnered with the North Allegheny School District to offer several continuing education classes on autism for teachers and paraprofessionals.
- In 2008, she was part of a statewide effort in Pennsylvania to provide input and advocate for a bill in the Pennsylvania Legislature that provided children with autism the ability to receive speech, occupational and behavioral therapies under commercial insurance plans. She worked closely with advocates and (then) Speaker of the then House Dennis M. O’Brien and Mike Turzai, current Speaker of the House of the PA legislature. She was invited to the signing of the bill by Governor Ed Rendell, which is now Act 62 in the State of Pennsylvania, that mandates insurance companies to cover autism services. The bill was passed in 2008 as part of her efforts and was signed into law by Governor Ed Rendell. The bill was also hailed as a model for other states to follow.
- In 2010, Cindy advocated for children with disabilities who were not receiving services due to high demand. She went to Allegheny County Officials and demanded that they allow a new service provider into the network in Allegheny County. The county complied with the demand, and added the Barber Center as a new wraparound provider in Allegheny County so children could receive services
- In 2010, Cindy began a research project in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University to study children with autism and their interactions with toy robots. The Pittsburgh Business Times also wrote an article about the venture.
- After the South Hills office moved from its location on Washington Rd., Cindy donated a $3,500 therapy swing to North Allegheny’s Marshall Middle School for their new and innovative sensory room.
- Cindy worked with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office to establish a therapy dog grant program that used drug seizure funds to provide service dogs for children with autism in need.
- Cindy and the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, with the assistance of our board member Tom Swan, also worked with the District Attorney’s office to create a training video for police officers that has received awards and is now used across the country.
- Cindy “retired” from the Autism Center of Pittsburgh in 2011 and handed the reins over to one of the psychologists who worked at the Autism Center. It is still in existence.
- In 2017, Cindy also founded the McCandless Community Association, an organization that provides many opportunities for family-oriented activities in McCandless Township including Movies in the Park, Pumpkin Party in the Park, Valentine Hearts & Crafts Event, Senior Jingle Bell Brunch, and more.
- In 2019, after the death of her brother, Cindy stepped down as the President of the McCandless Community Association. She still volunteers and helps to organize every event, but is not longer on the board of directors.
Cindy is a cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and is currently employed by a Silicon Valley software company and has been the editor of Access McCandless since 2013.
Note: A lot of folks who do not agree with my political philosophies call me a hater, rude and lots of other fun names. I am very blunt, and I say what I think. As for the hater part, I would encourage anyone to looks at the list of accomplishments above. 🙂